Photo Credit: MartinVMtl; 2008
One of my favourite things to do while growing up in Montreal was to play at Mont-Royal Park, or as it was often called, “the mountain.” (The highest point at the top was 233 metres (or 764 feet) above sea level. The pavilion at Beaver Lake was one of the places where we used to go often during the 1960s. It first opened in 1961, and it was quickly “considered one of the most innovative buildings in Québec,” writes les amis de la montagne on its site.
Back then, when we lived nearby on av du Park (Park Avenue), every Sunday during the summer, my father would say in Yiddish (zal s ale geyn tsu di moutain,) “Let’s all go to the mountain.” So, when I was very young, my two brothers and I would go for a walk (for about 30 minutes) with my father and mother from our house to an area near the pavilion at Beaver Lake, where we would picnic. Later, my father would give us money for ice cream, which we would buy at the concession stand inside the pavilion.
Beaver Lake (photo below), a popular place all year round, but more so during the summer. It got its name from the discovery of beavers’ dams during the time the artificial lake was made in 1938. The lake, in the shape of a four-leaf clover, has a maximum length of 240 metres (or about 787 feet). You can see another Montreal landmark. the dome of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mont-Royal (Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal) in the background (upper corner left) behind the grove of trees.
The oratory, Canada’s largest church, was deemed a national heritage site in 2004. The dome, the third largest of its kind in the world, is a familiar site in and around the city of Montreal. I have been inside the oratory a number of times, and found it peaceful. (I plan to elaborate more about this place in another post.) I have fond memories of seeing it as a child as we were returning home to Montreal while traveling east on Hwy 40 (Autoroute 40), part of the Trans-Canada Highway. We would take day trips to Ontario, chiefly to Ottawa or to the beaches just across the Québec–Ontario border.
Years later, as a working adult, if I traveled by car or by taxi returning from the airport, the sight of the oratory told me I was home. I have always considered Montreal as “home,” my home, and “the mountain” as the magical place of childhood. La montagne est Montréal, ma belle ville.
Beaver Lake (Lac aux castors):
Photo Credit & Source: Go Montreal Tourism